Book Review – Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked by Christa Carmen

summat borrowed

This collection of 13 stories was one I’d been aware of for a while. After hearing many reviews detailing the awesomeness within these pages, I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about.

Well, now I know, and here is yet another review raving about this collection.

There’s a great unnerving presence in the writing here, at times I was getting so washed away with the descriptions and similes that I had to stop and re-read certain passages as I realised I’d lost track of the plot. Of course, this is definitely not a complaint and allowed me to enjoy those lines of prose all over again.

I’ve never been one to quote books when reviewing them, and when reading reviews that contain them I do tend to skim read these parts. But I’m breaking my own rule here, because this line really blew me away;

Now the once-show horse was a chrysalis of dust and bone, its ribcage a steel trap that held its heart hostage.”

See what I mean? That is from the opening track, Thirsty Creatures, which did a great job setting up the following tales. I knew then that I was going to enjoy this ride.

And there are plenty more where that came from. It’s uncomfortable reading, perfectly realised, and I loved it.

As I mentioned there are 13 stories on offer here, and although not all of them are full-on horror, they all definitely leave their grisly mark on you.

My personal favourites included Red Room, where a girl finds mysterious photos of murder scenes on her phone. Convinced someone has been stealing her phone she tries to convince her fiancé that something is wrong. But does he listen to her? He probably should.

All Souls of Eve is a Christmas Carol-type story, but set on Halloween and with three dead ex-boyfriends. We’re treated to snapshots of Eve’s time with these dudes, but having them speaking to her from beyond the grave, along with the genius storytelling, makes this one creepy as hell. I have never read A Christmas Carol by (was it Kermit, maybe?), so I’m not sure whether the prose mimicked that story in any way, but this one dragged me in and kept me there throughout.

One of the longer tales, Liquid Handcuffs does a great job of setting up a scenario, enticing you in, then twisting everything on its head. I don’t want to say too much here, but I ran over my lunch break because of this one. I’m really not complaining either.

The Girl Who Loved Bruce Campbell was a brutal tale that mixed horror, gore, and action with a splattering of comedy, something very tricky to pull off. It was a very thinly veiled piece of comic relief, although, thinking about it, I was too scared to laugh at the time. Thoroughly enjoyable.

My absolute favourite in this collection was This Our Angry Train. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding deserted trains bloody terrifying, and this story involved one of those. Throw in some ghosts, a creepy conductor, and a general unnerving atmosphere (not for the first time) and you’ve got yourself a superb horror story. This one was amazing.

The One Who Answers the Door had that teen slasher movie vibe about it. Teenagers trick-or-treating in a strange place trying to scare each other before something really scares them – and not just them, me, too. What an ending!

Things close up with Flowers From Amaryllis. Told in the second person, which is a style you don’t see too often, this story was sad, creepy, and shudder-inducing.

If you’ve made it this far you can tell that I was a big fan of these stories. The ones I haven’t mentioned also contained excellent descriptions and were truly a joy to read. I can’t really speak too highly of this collection. Five blood-soaked stars all the way from me!

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